New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route: My enchanted ride!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tragic Overlander, May 17, 2016.

  1. Tragic Overlander

    Tragic Overlander Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    450
    Location:
    Rocky Mountains
    The NMBDR is the latest route offered by the good folks at the BDR organization:clap:clap Promoted as a nearly 1200 mile route through the "land of enchantment", this route promises to be the longest, and arguably the most remote of the BDR’s so far:deal Starting at Dell City, TX it winds its way across to the West and then up diagonally through New Mexico to its end point at Antonito, CO. This route can obviously be run from North to South, but I was going to start down at the Texas border.

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    I was particularly looking forward to riding this route primarily because of the incredible diversity of scenery, but I was also wanted to remote camp a lot more than I have been able to recently. I would be riding solo which also added an element of excitement as there would be plenty of opportunity for mishaps:p3rry


    I know there have been a few hearty riders that have attempted this route since it was published in earlier this year, but I am not sure if anyone has been able to complete it in its entirety so far :dunno - I know of at least two groups that were recently turned around by snow in the northern section- something I have also experienced a fair bit of this spring.


    Oh well, maybe I will have a bit of luck and make it through:pope


    I left home in a mix of freezing rain and snow (a recurring theme throughout Colorado this spring:vardy) at around ‪1.30pm in Sunday 5/8/16. Big gloves, heated grips on max. I deliberately left my heated vest at home - I mean who would think that I would need one heading into the New Mexico desert in May?:dirtdog

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    I won't bother you all attempting to create colorful prose on my 850 mile slab ride to the start of the route :mully, except to say I made it to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Around 5pm on Monday 5/9:thumb


    The trip was reasonably uneventful but included just about every weather condition imaginable- including snow and sand storms.

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    As I approached the Dell City turn off just before 5pm, I considered heading up there and either camping somewhere at Dell City or starting the trail and trying to find a camp site somewhere on the way. However, it was hot and there was a hellish wind blowing from the west which had created quite a sand storm. I had briefly researched Guadalupe Mountains National Park and it was a short ride to the east, so I thought I would reward myself and Hildebeast with a relatively early night.

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    The Pine Springs campground is approximately 31 miles on HWY 62 East of the turn off to Dell City. It's a pretty cool place. Although it's an organized campground, the sites are quite private, nicely spaced, and shaded. The campground is also higher than the valley floor and therefore a bit cooler. Camp sites are $8 per night. The views of the Guadalupe Mountains are spectacular.

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    You can see the sand storm that was raging just to the south of the camp ground

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    I found a nice camp site with a table in the shade, and set up camp - battling with the wind. Good thing I pulled in early because this place filled up over the next hour or 2.

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    As I was chilling out, a young couple rolled in on a Triumph 955. They set up their camp and then came over for dinner:dukegirl They were a German couple (Cornelius and Denise) who were on their second major motorcycle adventure:y0! A few years ago they had ridden around Australia as part of a 9 month odyssey. This time they had saved up, flown to Florida, bought the bike and were traveling around the US.

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    We had a nice night as they regaled me with stories of their travels especially around Australia which made me a little homesick. They really didn't have much of a plan, not many tools, no idea how to maintain their bike or even fix a flat:lol3. Ahhhh, to be young again:gerg

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    #1
    Widtsoe, Everett49 and eakins like this.
  2. Tragic Overlander

    Tragic Overlander Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    450
    Location:
    Rocky Mountains
    NMBDR - Day 1 Pine Springs Campground, TX to remote camp by Cloudcroft, NM: 231 miles

    Tuesday 5/10/16


    I was awoken early by the first stirrings of the wind. I was really excited about beginning this ride today, and was therefore pretty eager to get moving before it got too hot.

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    After packing up I fired up Hildebeast and before I could throw a leg over her, Cornelius appeared as if by magic. He had been drooling over Hilde all last night like a love sick puppy. He didn't ask, too polite, and as he just stood there looking longingly at the object of his desire, but I told him that he could take her for a ride if he wanted:fpalm

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    His eyes lit up. I also told him that if he crashed her, that I would own Denise:chace He grinned and sped off :lol3:lol3 I'm not sure if Denise was quite so amused!

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    He managed to bring her back a short while later and said his eyes were watering:nomystery He then asked me to check out their bike. The chain was nearly shot as we're both sprockets. I showed them how to adjust it and a few other gems of maintenance wisdom:zilla


    We said our good bye’s and I was off on the road to Dell City around 7.30am. It was going to get hot today but thankfully there was a nice little breeze blowing. It was a perfect 59 degrees as I rolled down the highway taking in the gorgeous views of the mountain range.

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    After a short spell on the highway, and then on a back road through farm lands I arrived at Dell City just after 8 and topped up with gas at the Napa / gas station - no premium gas here but they did have octane booster.

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    Then off to the grocery store to get water and other supplies.

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    I noticed a nice sprinter van with trailer parked close by. Maybe I would be following someone.

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    OK. Enough fluffing about. Time to get this trip started. Here is a map of the route for today:

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    I left town heading north, first on pavement which soon gave way to fast smooth gravel.

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    This was going to be a great day. The weather was perfect, Hildebeast was singing, and even the native tribes were wishing me well via smoke signals:wave

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    It seems that all the animals in the forest would come out to play with me as well. I saw lots of antelope, deer, hawks, four legged burgers, and multiple snakes on the road. Also, the jack rabbits in this area are HUGE – more like Kangaroo’s:yikes

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    We cruised through the irrigated farmland around Dell City and then out into the barren wasteland and cactus in the valley between the Guadalupe Mountains and the Brokeoff Mountains.

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    The cliffs of the Guadalupe Rim provided an intimidating backdrop.

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    I bypassed the turn to Dog Canyon, and then up a 2000 ft climb via the El Paso Gap onto the Guadalupe Rim.

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    Stunning views over the desert basin with the Volcanic cones to the south signifying the Mexican border.

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    This road was seriously slippery with lots of loose gravel :deal - made much more difficult by the howling wind. It was nice and cool though, at 70 degrees. At one point I stopped to take in the views and had to hold on to Hilde as she was nearly blown over.

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    The track took us for miles and miles along the rim, with many long sections of gnarled piñon pines creeping on the edge of the road like ghosts hiding all types of four legged monsters determined to run out and abruptly cease my forward momentum:yikes

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    Eventually we descended off the Guadalupe Rim for a fairly long but pretty ride on asphalt to the little hamlet of Weed.

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    Rumor has it that this town is going to be annexed as a satellite city of Colorado:deal Apparently it was once a huge metropolis but by now most of the population had moved away after exhibiting symptoms of non-productivity, dull senses and paranoia:bandit I filled up with gas (once again no premium) and immediately got the munchies:fpalm After loading up on crap, I then had to fight hard to resist the almost overwhelming urge to lie down and sleep:bore Time to get out of here!

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    Jokes aside, the store owners were really nice. They told me that only last week they had to go up on the rim and rescue a rider on the NMBDR who had crashed:muutt Apparently he was hurt, but "nothing life threatening". I hope this guy is OK:nod

    From Weed, the scenery magically transformed once again to a winding path through a thick Ponderosa forest in the Lincoln National Forest.

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    We seemingly climbed a long way to around 8500 ft. It was nice and cool up here with lots of shade as well as a strong wind. The road surface also changed with a few rocks mixed in with red clay sections that were deeply rutted no doubt after a recent rains. This would be really difficult if it was wet. There were quite a few very large downed tree’s that had obviously only been recently cut and removed to the side of the road.

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    This section was really pretty- the highlight being the jaw dropping views down over the valley complete with a glimpse of the White Sands National Monument and the Sacramento Mountains.



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    I had a couple of close calls with Jeeps taking up the whole road and looking at the scenery and everything else but the road:finger One seemingly irrelevant observation about New Mexico – it seems the older the gentlemen get, the bigger their hats become :lol3:rofl

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    The higher we got, the tighter the trail became. This was really good fun, and would have been even better except for having to concentrate on not slipping into the 12" deep ruts covered in a thin layer of fine dirt.

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    We passed just below but got a glimpse of the Apache Point Stellar observatory as well as the Sunspot Astronomy center and the Sacramento Peak solar observatory. It would appear that inter-galactic viewing is pretty good up here:rayof

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    Eventually the route wound down the mountain to the HWY 82. Turned right towards Cloudcroft. This was a really cool road - lots of twists and turns as we climbed up to the little tourist town at an altitude of around 8600 Ft. The old railway trestle bridges are clearly visible from many points along the highway – I don’t know how comfortable I would be on a steam train going over some of these bridges 100 years ago. Somehow I managed to delete the pics of the bridges - sorry:shog


    I was a little disappointed that I had missed the closing time for the Old Apple Barn by about 20 minutes:baldy

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    Into town and took a stroll through the very western themed streets. There is obviously a rich history here.

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    Apparently Timber and Tourism have kept it afloat, but it started as a railway town. Back in the 1890’s, the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, organized by the Eddy brothers arrived in the newly founded town of Alamogordo intending to continue the rail line further north. However, this required a steady supply of timber. In 1898 the Eddy brothers sent a survey crew into the Sacramento Mountains to determine the feasibility of extending a line up the summit to harvest the forests. The crew reported that not only was it possible, but the area could attract visitors. The name of Cloudcroft–a pasture for the clouds–was suggested and work on the line soon began.

    The rail line arrived in Cloudcroft in early 1900, and in June 1900 the train depot was finished, located just west of The Pavilion and the Lodge which were built to accommodate tourists. Meeting the trains became a daily activity in the village, with three arriving each day, bringing lumber, mail, and passengers. Throughout the 1920’s many of the buildings burnt down multiple times and were rebuilt to conform with the original plans. Eventually, the railway became not profitable and was abandoned, but tourism still flourished.

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    I went to Dave’s cafe for dinner. Quite good. Completely stuffed, I left town and went back down the highway for a short stretch before turning right onto a forest trail up into the Lincoln National Forest.

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    Up another long hill and found a remote camp just off the forest road. I probably could have found better, but it was getting late and I was pretty tired - Must have been the lingering affects from my visit to Weed. There were a few little fire pits where I camped, but it was still very windy up here and looking around at the evidence of past forest fires and all the dried pine needle everywhere, I decided that it was not a good idea to have a camp fire tonight:nono

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    What a great day:wings I couldn’t believe that I was camping above 8000 ft so close to the Mexican border. In a relatively short distance, we had ridden through a sandy desert, over cliff’s, and into high alpine forests. Certainly not what I had expected this far south. I was really enjoying this ride at the end of the first day:thumb

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    #2
  3. Shaykon Qwinney

    Shaykon Qwinney Been here awhile

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    Oct 4, 2006
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    Alafreakinbama
    :lurk
    #3
  4. DingWeed

    DingWeed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
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    790
    Location:
    4 Corners
    Dave,
    Great start!!.....Looking Forward to the rest!!
    Scott
    #4
  5. jglow

    jglow Two wheeled traveler

    Joined:
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    445
    Location:
    Lowry Crossing, TX
    :lurk:lurk:lurk
    #5
  6. ABuck99

    ABuck99 0.0

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    815
    Location:
    Georgia
    Good stuff Dave- :lurk

    Your story telling is certainly becoming more refined:kbasa2
    #6
  7. TxGhostrider

    TxGhostrider Old-Tired-Fat&Gripey

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
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    97
    Location:
    Jack County, Texas
    Riding along! :lurk:lurk:lurk:lurk
    #7
  8. Crashes

    Crashes Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    124
    Location:
    Georgia
    Thanks for the awesome pictures. I spent a lot of time in Artesia, NM and on week ends road all of NM's dirt back (main) roads. I think the wind blows all the time out there. I wish I was there with you on your ride. Such an awesome country.
    #8
  9. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
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    2,651
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    Denver, CO
    Let's see some more!
    #9
  10. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
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    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Nice pics!
    Thanks for posting.
    #10
  11. Sledred

    Sledred Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
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    Location:
    N Phx
    Fantastic RR - let's keep this NMBDR route a secret before all the touristas get the urge to try it in their Range Rovers.... Thanks for the pics and narrative!
    #11
  12. Tragic Overlander

    Tragic Overlander Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    450
    Location:
    Rocky Mountains
    NMBDR - Day 2 - Cloudcroft to Elephant Butte Lake: 280 miles

    Wednesday 5/11/16

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    I woke up just as the sun was coming up and noticed immediately that it was a bit chilly at 37 degrees. I was packed up and on the trail by 7.40am. What an incredible start to the day. Beautiful Ponderosa pine forest. Of course I passed heaps of great camp sites within a couple of miles of where I stopped last night:lol2 Once again, all the forest animals came out to play. Elk, deer, horses, rabbits, burgers and more snakes:wave

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    Soon we came down into Fresnal Canyon and the landscape changed again to dry and rugged canyons interspersed with massive granite outcroppings.

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    I could see the White Sands National Monument from many of the higher viewing points along this section. The plan is to ride around there later today.
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    Then back into the forest up a narrower trail which seemed to climb forever. At the top, we turned up a steep and rocky section along the ridge for a while before dropping down a really big hill.

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    This was probably the most technical of the ride so far, made more so by the effort of a dozer driver who succeeded in turning over every rock and loose bit of dirt. At the bottom we turned around and went back up. Process repeated. Not difficult, but fun. The highlight of my ride so far:clap

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    Then back down a very long hill to Highway 70 and then a long and pretty tarmac section and canyon twisties along White Mountain Drive through the Mescalero Indian reservation all the way into the resort town of Ruidoso.

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    I just had to stop at Starbucks – ostensibly just to do some chain maintenance!:*sip* I had begun to notice a little more chain slap than usual this morning, so wanted to clean, lube and adjust it before it got too bad.

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    While I was here, and older gentleman (big hat:lol3) comes over and starts chatting. He was telling me that they just had a 20 year reunion of his trip with Helge Pederson down to Ushuaia which he did on a KLR 650:bow. He was a great guy, an avid rider and had some really interesting stories. Before I knew it, he had called some of his friends who drove to Starbucks to say Hi and chat as well:lol3 Eventually I told them I had to go, and he thanked me for "making" his day. What a nice guy:thumb

    Out of Ruidoso there was a bit of a slab run north through the Lincoln National Forest, and then back up onto some awesome dirt roads through the high alpine mountains - very similar to earlier in the morning except without the rocks. The views sucked:wink:

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    We descended out of the mountains through the very picturesque Nogal Canyon.

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    Once again the land transformed this time to dry cactus and sage covered desert.

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    Into Carrizozo for gas and then North through the Valley of Fires National Recreational Area which includes crossing through a section of the Malpais (Spanish for “Badlands”) Lava flow. This part of the long Tularosa Valley contains many square miles of buckled, twisted basalt lava - part of an extensive flow up to 165 feet thick and over 45 miles long that originated from several nearby volcanoes, including one vent now known as Little Black Peak, 9 miles northwest of Carrizozo.

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    Soon after the Malpais, there is a pretty cool section into remote cattle ranch. I was considering skipping this little section but I'm glad I didn't:deal

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    All of Gods creatures came out to see me: lots of burgers, a couple of snakes, antelope, foxes, coyotes, and even these:



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    Hildebeast was taken aback, and didn’t know quite what sort of strange animals they were:uhoh It's a little hard to see in the video, but I believe they were a small herd of Gemsboks Oryx - a breed of Antelope which are extinct in the wilds of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and have survived through a captive breeding program in game ranches in Texas and New Mexico. Apparently some were released at the White Sands Missile Range and have become an “invasive species of concern” at the adjacent White Sands National Monument.

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    The track is a mix of high speed graded dirt roads, two track, rocks, mud and sand. It was a little loose and sandy here and there but nothing scary. A few gates as well. This whole section runs through a working cattle ranch, so there are long horned burgers everywhere:dukegirl

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    There is a seemingly long stretch of highway west through the long Tularosa Valley before we turned south towards the White Sands Missile Range.

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    I wasn't really looking forward to this section based on other reports and a conversation with one of the BDR guys. "Deep sand possible" for a very long while:p3rry I set out through the ranch with a little trepidation and then along the fence line demarcation between life on my side, and the missile range on the other:kboom

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    For me, this section turned out to be an absolute blast :jack – you see what I did there:lol3 Yes, there is some sand, but mostly to the north near the ranch, and nothing we couldn't handle standing up on the pegs, second or third gear, with smooth throttle. I suspect though that later on in the year after a hot and windy summer, the sand through here might be significantly more of an adversity:deal

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    Soon we were riding along the fence line for miles. It really reminded me of riding in Western Australia - minus the cactus. Gaining confidence, Hildebeast dared me to pretend I was racing the Oz Safari, and of course I couldn't resist:stupid

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    This area certainly meets my definition of remote.

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    At some point along the way I noticed my GPS was playing up - not able to give me an accurate heading or follow the tracks:norton Others had also mentioned this. Now Hilde and I have spent a lot of time together by ourselves recently, and sometimes we indulge ourselves in a healthy philosophical debate:fight Of course, we are generally completely politically opposed. She is very anti-military and defense (this week anyway). At this time, she implied that our GPS issues were a result of a secret military conspiracy:pot - By turning the civilian GPS off in this area, the army could lure geographically embarrassed tourists onto the missile range in order to give bombers a legitimate live fire target:shoot

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    Of course I scoffed and promptly rode her hard into a rocky step as punishment for discussing something so treasonous:nono But her words weighed on me. As the heat worked on me and fatigue began to have an effect, I took Hildebeast's conspiracy theory one step further:fpalm What if the BDR folks are involved as well?:hide Think about it. If a group of unsuspecting “adventure riders” were following the published route and got blown up by a stealth F-22 Raptor, and it was captured on someone's GoPro to be posted on YouTube:yikes The publicity would be enormous. Just imagine how many maps would be sold and gpx files downloaded by idiots that wanted to "run the gauntlet":pot. It would take “adventure riding” to the NEXT LEVEL:imaposer:lol3:imaposer

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    Alas, I digress. Beyond the bombing range we were back into some pretty harsh ranch land. At one of the gates I stopped and had a nice chat with some burgers who were trying to convince me if the benefits of vegetarianism:hmmmmm

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    The roads opened up and it was a high speed run into Truth or Consequences:pynd This is where Hildebeast really shines. She had her ears pinned back, and I had a huge shit eating grin from ear to ear. At one point I was so delusional that I imagined I was a western gunslinger bringing my 150 horses into town:2guns



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    I stopped along the way to check out Elephant Butte and the dam - once the largest irrigation system in the world:deal

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    Lots of leisure craft and houseboats now

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    Then down into town for gas around ‪5pm.

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    Now, I am not from the US and had never heard of the game show. I guess I was expecting a rustic western themed tourist town full of quirky characters from bad western movies. ‘Truth or Consequences’ has that type of a ring to it. However, I was sadly disappointed. Apparently it used to be called Hot Springs after the many natural springs in the area. The construction of the Elephant Butte Dam (completed in 1916) attracted a sustainable population and tourism.

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    Apparently though the city changed its name to "Truth or Consequences", the title of a popular NBC Radio program. In March 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, announced that he would air the program on its 10th anniversary from the first town that renamed itself after the show; Hot Springs won the honor, officially changing its name on March 31, 1950 (the program originated there the following evening, April 1st). Edwards visited the town during the first weekend of May for the next 50 years:deal I shit you not. You just can’t make this stuff up:drink


    The BDR map mentions great camping around the lake so I went to check out the Elephant Butte State Park. I went all the way down to the water and decided that I couldn't pass up this opportunity:jkam

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    I rolled out my air mattress and sleeping bag under the canopy of my tent, made dinner and spent a relaxing night reading with the soothing sounds of the tiny waves lapping at the shoreline. It doesn't get much better than this:super

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    What a great day. Cool crisp Mountains, hot dry deserts, incredible wildlife. Just challenging enough to be interesting. Wow, if the NMBDR keeps this up, it just might topple UT as my favorite BDR!
    #12
  13. davidp14

    davidp14 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Oddometer:
    402
    Location:
    va
    In! Great pics! Thanks for sharing.

    Just an observation, it looks like you pack even lighter than me. A pic and a gear run down would be awesome if you get around to it.
    #13
  14. SparkyL

    SparkyL Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
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    263
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    The 303
    Like! Great pics! Keep em coming. Thanks.
    #14
  15. Tragic Overlander

    Tragic Overlander Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    450
    Location:
    Rocky Mountains
    Thanks. Years of whittling down all the crap I don't need has got me to a system that I am fairly comfortable with. That being said, every trip is different - terrain, distance, remoteness etc. I had almost the same set up for Baja earlier this year and it was too much, and I will probably take a few extra things to Alaska in June.

    If I get a chance, I will post my packing list at the end of this RR. Until then......
    #15
    davidp14 likes this.
  16. trikepilot

    trikepilot Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2007
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    756
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA & NRG, WV
    Just caught up with this TR, Dave. Again... great pix and descriptions.
    #16
  17. Tragic Overlander

    Tragic Overlander Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    450
    Location:
    Rocky Mountains
    NMBDR Day 3 - Elephant Butte Lake to Pueblo Park campground: 207 miles

    Thursday 5/12/16

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    As usual, I woke up early after not sleeping very well. The wind came up after dark and blew hard all night. I looked outside and was happy to see that Hildebeast had not blown away:clap Making coffee and packing up my tent was an ambidextrous endeavor:rilla

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    I left Elephant Butte at a leisurely pace around 7.30. I am starting to get a bit worried about Hildebeast's chain. It seemed good before I left, but has been deteriorating quickly since day 1. Repeated adjustment, cleaning and lubing – just trying to nurse the big girl home:pope

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    The sealed road along Elephant Butte dam was pretty but there were lots of animals that kept my speed down.

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    Then out onto fast flat desert and the Sierra Cuchillo foothills complete with the mountains of the Black Range providing a stunning backdrop. This first stint probably had the most black top of the trip, but I wasn’t complaining as it was very pretty, nice and cool, and I knew it was going to change soon.

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    Cruising (dawdling) into Winston, I was passed by a guy on a 690. I pulled over to chat in Winston as Mike was getting gas:wave

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    We were the first other riders that each of us had seen on this ride. Mike was doing the BDR in sections, and this was his third time on the route. He parked a vehicle in T or C and was heading as far as Cuba, before other commitments would have him turn back to Texas. He mentioned he was hoping to camp up near Grants tonight and gave me an open invitation :thumb- but I was in no hurry today to make that kind of mileage:rayof

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    Immediately leaving Winston we rolled through the tiny village of Chloride, and then the track changed to a very rocky path twisting through Chloride Canyon.

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    The BDR map mentions that we would be crossing Chloride creek over 1 million times. I lost count at 6473:confused Definitely fun:thumb

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    Lots of rocks, water crossings (none more than 1ft deep) and mud ruts. It was cool and shaded for the most part and I took my time, stopping regularly to soak up the beautiful scenery and tranquility that this valley offered:wings

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    At the end of the canyon, the geography changed once again as we climbed some pretty big hills. These were extremely dry and loose, and Hildebeasts now thoroughly destroyed rear E-07 tire was scrambling for any traction. We made it up everything without incident, but it did require momentum and a little “commitment” from the big girl:mulie

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    Then there were a series of stunning forest roads winding over the Great Divide through old growth Pinion trees in the Gila National Forest.

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    I stopped to check out a few old and abandoned huts. This is Monument Park Cabin. The peace and tranquility around here was mesmerizing – I literally had not seen signs of civilization since Mike passed me just out of Winston.

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    A large portion of this section had clearly been devastated by huge forest fires some time not too long ago. It is starting to grow back, but it will be a while before the forest is able to completely rejuvenate itself.

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    There was also a lot of smoke in the air - hopefully it was a controlled burn
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    There was also one more rocky, somewhat rocky section with a climb up to a peak which wasn’t very difficult at all – sorry no pics as both my cameras need recharging. The views were amazing. Going down towards Reserve I had to go around a downed tree blocking the road, and a couple more that had been recently removed. Then down into Reserve around 2pm.

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    There was a section of tarmac just out of Reserve which was just as rough as the dirt road we had just ridden on

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    After a big meal in Reserve at the Mexican / American restaurant next to the gas station, I topped up with supplies and started on section 4 headed towards Fence Lake. Not far along the highway, we turned off onto Pueblo Park road:ricky

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    Nice, smooth graded dirt roads that wind up and down into the Gila National Forest. Lots of large granite outcroppings, and medium density Pinons and Junipers.

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    About 6.5 miles along the road I came to Pueblo Park camp ground. I was going to just stop for a break, as it was only 3.45pm but this place was quiet, shaded and peaceful:jkam I pulled up at a nice campsite under some kind of a big cottonwood tree, with shaded table, camp fire, and firewood. Fuck it. This is meant to be enjoyable. I got off the bike, shed my gear and relaxed with my book:*sip*

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    I had a nice little camp fire. Just what I needed. I fell asleep amidst a deep conversation between 2 owls on opposite ends of the campground. Hooting away into the wee hours:snore
    #17
    Holaday, Dusty, chief 06 and 10 others like this.
  18. Dillard

    Dillard Seeker

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    289
    Location:
    In my mind
    "Fuck it. This is meant to be enjoyable".

    Damn right.

    Looks like a terrific ride. Really enjoying the report.
    #18
    WacoDirtryder likes this.
  19. StinkyCheese

    StinkyCheese Long timer Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,024
    Location:
    Las Cruces, NM
    Very nice report and pics! Great state for riding.
    #19
  20. Tragic Overlander

    Tragic Overlander Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    450
    Location:
    Rocky Mountains
    NMBDR Day 4: Pueblo Park to Coal Mine Campground: 214 miles

    Friday 5/13/16


    I woke up to the sound of birds announcing the start of a new day, and was eager to get out of my tent and join them. I was in no hurry to get moving today, as I was thoroughly enjoying just relaxing in this beautiful place. In fact, I seriously considered staying another day here and the only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t think I had enough water for the untold number of coffee’s I would need:*sip*

    I took a leisurely stroll around the campground which had some cattle corrals and the Pueblo creek (which was dry) close by. Because it is located adjacent to the Blue Range Wilderness it is apparently quite popular as a staging place for hikers and rock fossickers. Originally, this place used to be the base camp for the Civilian Conservation Corps which was responsible for building the roads into the Gila National Forest back in the 1930’s.

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    For some reason, I also was not really that excited about the next section through the Indian reservation up to Grants. I envisioned a hot, dusty and desolate slog:knary


    I adjusted, cleaned and lubed Hildebeast’s sorry looking chain yet again, and said a quick prayer to ask if it could just hang on for another few days:pope I left camp around 9am somewhat reluctantly and immediately the track had us climbing up towards Saddle Mountain.

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    :eek2Wow. The views along this section are stunning. From the top we had a perfect vantage point of the Blue Range Wilderness to the south, the ancient Cliff Dwellings, and somewhere down there was the AZ border.

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    Down the mountain for a quick stop to top up gas and water at Luna – no premium again:deal

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    A series of nicely flowing and well maintained forest roads up through the San Francisco Mountains eventually brought me back down to yet another change in scenery as it transformed to high desert.


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    Fast and smooth roads through here.

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    Then as we approached the Zuni Indian Reservation the stark outlines of rock formations began to appear. It really is beautiful out here:rayof

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    I stopped at the Zuni Salt Mine overlook for a few pics, and took the time to ponder the hardships of living and working out here. I suspect this might be where my lovely wife will send me when she finds out how much all these trips are costing:hide:rogue

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    Soon after this I see the shape of a solo motorcyclist coming towards me. We both stop for a bit of a chin wag. I apologize but I can't remember his name:shog, but he was heading down the NMBDR and then intending to ride over to Arizona and up the AZBDR in the next couple of weeks on his trusty DR650:clap He was a really nice guy and we wished each other well for our respective adventures:wave

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    Some more fast roads through stunning but harsh country. This would be miserable if there was even a hint of moisture on the road:yikes

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    Then into the little village of Fence Lake which is the end of Section 4. There are no services here, in fact, there isn’t much here at all. I stopped for a quick lunch break (Thanks Cliff:thumb) and checked out the monument outside the community center.

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    Section 5 starts with a quick run up through the Ramah Indian Reservation, past Candy Kitchen and the turn off for Pinehill (gas here if needed:deal).
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    Soon we popped out onto HWY53 for a short stint and then turned North on some fast and smooth dirt.

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    Just as I settled into a high speed comfort zone, the track turned into a muddy and deeply rutted 2 track.

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    This little section had everything – mud, rocks, sand, volcanic rocks, and even some somewhat technical eroded pitches. Awesome fun and a perfect complement to the fast dirt earlier:wings I suspect there have been very few, if any vehicles through this section – although I knew of 3 motorcycles that rode through here today:jjen There was a thick covering of pine needles over the track which made it a little difficult in places to see the trail.

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    I stopped to check out an old well – I gather the powers that be were concerned about being sued if people fell in here so the constructed the NM Eifel tower over it:lol3

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    Into Grants (end of section 5) through the walls of the beautiful Zuni Canyon.

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    I had a late lunch / early dinner and set out on Section 6.

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    Not far out of town I came across the Coal Mine Campground in the Cibola National Forest. It was a little earlier than I wanted to stop, but the campground was empty, shaded and looked to me like a good reason to call it a day.

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    I set up my camp, worked on Hildebeast’s chain, and started going through all the photo’s of the trip so far. As the sun went down, the campground received quite a few extra visitors including a fleet of 5 vans hauling a Christian group that decided the best place to base their festivities was right next to me – despite the other 18 empty sites they could have chosen:dirtdog


    Despite my earlier completely misplaced misgivings, for me, today was probably the most enjoyable day so far.:wings
    #20